Morning coffee: Thursday

artmoniaBatman In Texas – Beautiful Black And White Photographs by French photographer Remi Noël.

Some Thursdays feel exactly like this.

Video: Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-TX) bullies a National Park Service Ranger

TPM — Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-TX), one of a number of Republicans who have tried to use the closed World War II Memorial to bash the Obama administration and Democrats on the shutdown, confronted [a National Park Service Ranger] while surrounded by a crowd of onlookers.

Photo op!

Neugebauer asked the Ranger how she could turn World War II veterans away.

“How do you look at them and…deny them access?” the congressman asked.

“It’s difficult,” she responded.

“Well, it should be difficult,” Neugebauer snapped.

“It is difficult,” the Ranger said. “I’m sorry sir.”

“The Park Service should be ashamed of themselves,” Neugebauer said.

“I’m not ashamed,” the Ranger said.

Members of the crowd then chimed in. One person shouted “This woman is doing her job, just like me.”

“I’m a 30-year federal veteran — I’m out of work,” the man continued.

“Well, the reason you are is because [Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid decided to shutdown the government,” Neugebauer said.

“No, it’s because the government won’t do its job and pass a budget,” the man responded.

Neugebauer then tells his entourage, “Come on, let’s take this somewhere else please,” and scurries away.

Keep in mind that, as a congressman, Neugebauer’s federal paychecks continue to be deposited every two weeks during this shutdown, while the NPS ranger is currently required to work without pay.


Green Eggs and a Government Shutdown

I’m so relieved Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and the rest of his party take their responsibilities seriously, that they do the work that needs to be done with care and diligence, making every effort to prevent a government shutdown. Oh, hold on… 

Sen. Ted Cruz just read Green Eggs and Ham tonight on the Senate Floor, during his pretend “filibuster” against Obamacare:

The thing about Cruz’s “filibuster”? It’s not a filibuster at all, it’s fake. Cruz privately approached Sen. Harry Reid to ask permission to talk:

Sen. Ted Cruz has known since Monday exactly how long he’d be allowed to speak, and that no matter how long he talked, he wouldn’t be able to prevent a vote he had hoped to stop. That’s because, according to a spokesman for Majority Leader Harry Reid, Cruz approached Reid privately on the floor requesting the time to talk. And when no other Senator objected, Reid allowed it.

Pure vaudeville for the spittle-spewers. Meanwhile as Cruz fucks around on the Senate Floor with our future:

Republican Reindeer Games will cost taxpayers billions: In 1996, the Office of Management and Budget tallied the two major shutdowns of the decade at about $1.4 billion. Adjusting for inflation would bring that total to more than $2 billion in today’s dollars. But as an analysis by Roy Meyers, a political scientist at the University of Maryland, found, that estimate left out a lot. It didn’t account for the lost value of work that wasn’t done or the $300 million the federal parks would have taken in or the reduced pace of IRS audits.” …Even getting near a shutdown costs money. The government must prepare, and that means a lot of hours spent on nothing useful. …The irony, Collender added, is that “Republicans who are so big on uncertainty and government efficiency would never think it’s prudent to ask a business to operate the way they’re asking government to operate. Can you imagine a business telling employees, ‘We might shut down, and keep an eye out for an e-mail telling you whether to report next week’?”

Dr. Seuss is probably spinning in his grave.

The tragedy in Texas

KTVB: If you’re wondering about a loved one in the West, Texas area, a hotline has been set up. Call 254-202-1100

The remains of a fertilizer plant burn after an explosion at the plant in the town of West, near Waco, Texas early April 18, 2013. Credit: REUTERS/Mike Stone

Satellite view showing location of West Fertilizer Company in West, Texas.

  • Reuters: Officials said a full assessment of property damage would not come until after dawn. Wilson said 50 to 75 homes were damaged by the explosion and a fire that followed, and a nearby 50-unit apartment complex had been reduced to “a skeleton standing up.” Muska put the number of destroyed homes at between 60 and 80. Wilson said 133 people had been evacuated from the nursing home, which was heavily damaged, but it was not immediately clear how many residents of the facility were hurt. A middle school in town also was heavily damaged.

  • ABC: The blast even registered as a 2.1 magnitude seismic event, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. It was felt 20 to 30 miles away, witnesses said, and near the plant burned buildings, knocked down people, blew out windows…
  • HuffPo: Among those believed to be dead: Three to five volunteer firefighters and a single law enforcement officer who responded to a fire call at the West Fertilizer Co. shortly before the blast.
  • WSJ: 133 people were removed from an assisted-living facility near the blast site. More than 100 people were taken to nearby hospitals for treatment, according to local television reports.

Residents are evacuated from a nursing home that was extensively damaged by a Texas explosion
Residents are evacuated from a nursing home extensively damaged by the explosion. The blast was heard from 45 miles away. Photograph: Rod Aydelotte/AP

  • HuffPo: William Burch and his wife, a retired Air Force nurse, entered the damaged nursing home before first responders arrived. They split up, searching separate wings, and found residents in wheelchairs trapped in their rooms. The halls were dark and the ceilings had collapsed. Water filled the hallways and electrical wires hung eerily from the ceilings. “They had Sheetrock that was on top of them. You had to remove that,” Burch said. It was “completely chaotic.”
  • NBC: Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center in Waco said it treated 101 patients and admitted 28. Five of them were in the intensive care unit, two in critical condition. Emergency room Dr. Bradford Holland said injuries included skull and leg fractures and large cuts. Providence Hospital in Waco said it had received 65 patients, many with abrasions and broken bones and some in respiratory distress, apparently because of chemical or smoke inhalation.

A photo from Twitter user @TitansHomer shows a destroyed apartment complex

  • HuffPo: In the hours after the blast, residents wandered the dark, windy streets searching for shelter. Among them was Julie Zahirniako, who said she and her son, Anthony, had been playing at a school playground near the fertilizer plant when the explosion hit. She was walking the track, he was kicking a football. The explosion threw her son four feet in the air, breaking his ribs. She said she saw people running from the nursing home and the roof of the school lifted into the sky. “Hit the ground, hit the ground,” Zahirniako heard a neighbor yell
  • A Chemical Safety Board team is scheduled to arrive in West, Texas Thursday afternoon.
  • SkyNews: American Red Cross crews from across Texas are being sent to the site. The number of people arriving in the town offering assistance has become a logistical problem in itself, emergency workers say. They are also anticipating further disruption later, with heavy thunderstorms and potential tornadoes forecast in the area.

KTVB: If you’re wondering about a loved one in the West, Texas area, a hotline has been set up. Call 254-202-1100

A fire still burns in a apartment complex near the explosion
A fire still burns in a apartment complex destroyed near a fertilizer plant that exploded earlier in West, Texas, in this photo made early Thursday morning, April 18, 2013. (AP Photo/LM Otero)



The GOP’s rebranding effort continues to fail miserably: Ted Nugent’s SOTU invite

Texas Republican invites Ted Nugent, an aging rocker and the official spokesman for Impotent White Male Rage, to the SOTU: 

TPM: Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX), who threatened President Obama with impeachment over his plan to reduce gun violence, has offered a ticket to the State of the Union to Ted Nugent — whose criticism of the president once resulted in a sitdown with the Secret Service. “I am excited to have a patriot like Ted Nugent joining me in the House Chamber to hear from President Obama,” Stockman said in a statement Monday. “After the Address I’m sure Ted will have plenty to say.”

image source: UTMB (yep, created here)

“If Barack Obama becomes the president in November, again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year.” — Ted Nugent

Still alive. Still free. We’re still waiting, Ted.

Republican Rep. Stockman apparently finds the following Nugent facts admirable: 

  • HOW NUGENT BRAVELY SHIT HIS PANTS TO AVOID THE VIETNAM DRAFT: In a July 15, 1990, Detroit Free Press interview, Nugent crowed about how he managed to dodge the draft. He claims that 30 days before his draft board physical, he disavowed personal hygiene. The last ten days he ingested nothing but junk food and Pepsi, and with a week to go until the physical, he stopped using the bathroom altogether. When the big day came, he had been living in excrement-caked and urine-stained pants. Always the hero, however, Nugent reassured the Free Press, “But if I would have gone over there, I’d have been killed, or I’d have killed all the Hippies in the foxholes. I would have killed everybody.” (via:
  • FAMILY VALUES: Ted Nugent fathered SEVEN kids with FIVE different women, to which only two of whom he was married.(via:
  • RICK PERRY’S 2007 INAUGURAL BALL:  The Motor City Madman played his scorching set draped in a confederate flag shirt – a symbol of slavery in just about everyone’s book – showing his pride for the South and his disrespect for African-American heritage in one crushing blow of 70’s-era guitar force. Perry danced on stage in his tuxedo, grinning contentedly. (via:
  • NUGENT ON SUPPORTING PERRY’S 2012 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: “If I’m not given an authorized position in the campaign [it’s] because I’m too divisive,” Nugent told “I don’t know if I’ll get a stamp of approval because I am so volatile and because the line in the sand in a political campaign can be so ambiguous — and I’m anything but. […] on a rock ‘n’ roll stage, I can tell Hillary Clinton to straddle my machine gun.” (via: Rick Perry blog)
  • COMPARED GUN OWNERS TO ROSA PARKS’ CIVIL RIGHTS ACTION: “There will come a time when the gun owners of America, the law-abiding gun owners of America, will be the Rosa Parks and we will sit down on the front seat of the bus, case closed,” said Nugent in an interview to WorldNetDaily.
  • THINKS IT WOULD HAVE BEEN BEST IF THE SOUTH HAD WON THE CIVIL WAR: “Because our legislative, judicial and executive branches of government hold the 10th Amendment in contempt, I’m beginning to wonder if it would have been best had the South won the Civil War.” — Seattle PI
  • NUGENT, BORN IN 1948, is now 64 years old. An old man with no wisdom.

Selections from the annals of ‘Republicans are terrible people’

Liars, phonies, cheats, and hypocrites — and that’s on a good day:


  • Teaparty freshman Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) is arguing that the 2nd Amendment could be interpreted broadly enough to allow ordinary citizens access to the same equipment that the military uses.
  • Dear Patriot, You and I are literally surrounded. The gun-grabbers in the Senate are about to launch an all-out-assault on the Second Amendment. On your rights. On your freedom. Just the other night, President Obama urged them to act. And then he went one step further, spelling out the 23 different Executive Orders he will take to get your guns.”Mitch McConnell in a fundraising email sent Jan. 22
  • On Tuesday afternoon, the nation experienced its 49th school shooting since the Columbine massacre in 1999, when an altercation between two individuals set off at least five gunshots at Lone Star College in north Houston, Texas, injuring both parties and a nearby janitor caught in the crossfire. Now, top Republican lawmakers — including Gov. Rick Perry and Rep. Tim Poe — are using Tuesday’s incident to call for more weapons on campus.
  • Speaking to fans during an NBC-sponsored gun show, Ted “Ol’ Shitty Pants” Nugent said that Obama “is attempting to re-implement the tyranny of King George that we escaped from in 1776,” adding: “If you want another Concord bridge, I’ve got some buddies.”
  • Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), after having been a senator for three weeks, [said on "Meet the Press"]: “You know, there actually isn’t the so-called gun show loophole. That doesn’t exist.” And why not? Because as Cruz sees it, licensed firearm dealers are the ones conducting sales at gun shows, and these dealers already follow the law on background checks, so there’s no problem. Except, the senator is confused — as we’ve seen over and over again, background checks aren’t conducted at gun shows, and the loophole does exist.
  • Rep. James Lankford (R-OK), the fifth-ranking House Republican, laid the blame for gun violence at the feet of an unusual suspect: the children of “welfare moms” who commit fraud.
  • On Monday of last week, Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas) announced that if President Barack Obama attempted to enact new gun violence prevention measures through executive order, he would have no choice but to file articles of impeachment. By Tuesday, he was comparing Obama to Saddam Hussein for using children as props at a speech introducing a gun control package. By Wednesday, he had stepped back from the precipice, asserting that “impeachment is not something to be taken lightly.” After all, where did anyone get that idea?

The Podpeople of Dumbfckistan

  • A map that shows states where representatives voted on both Katrina and Sandy aid bills but changed their attitude on emergency relief (Katrina yes, Sandy no).
  • The Virginia state Senate is split 20-20 between Republicans and Democrats. On Monday, while state Sen. Henry Marsh (D) — a 79-year-old civil rights veteran — was reportedly in Washington to attend President Obama’s second inaugural, GOP senators forced through a mid-term redistricting plan…

What’s the Washington Post say about it? BOTH SIDES DO ITShame on the witless Democrats for not anticipating that Republicans, given the chance, would resort to dirty tricks. And shame on Republicans for continuing their campaign to transform the General Assembly into a nasty, underhanded clone of Congress.

  • Republican Party Chair Brent Kovac in Pennsylvania says that he doesn’t regret hanging at least three American flags upside down to protest President Barack Obama’s second inauguration because “our nation is in a horrible place.”
  • Ohio State Board of Education President says she wasn’t comparing Obama to Hitler when she compared Obama to Hitler.
  • Remember the priest who called 911 for help getting out of his handcuffs and mouth gag? Today that priest’s boss, Diocese of Springfield Bishop Thomas Paprocki (left), is telling the press that that there was “no sexual component” to the incident because the priest had been alone at the time… According to Paprocki, “self-bondage” was merely the priest’s way of alleviating the stress of his job. Earlier this month Paprocki appeared at the Illinois state house to testify against that state’s proposed same-sex marriage bill… In September, Paprocki posted a YouTube video in which he warned that Satan “will take the souls” of any Catholic who votes for a Democrat.
  • Fox News’ resident psychiatrist Dr. Keith Ablow believes that President Barack Obama advocates “disempowering” people through gun safety legislation because he was “abandoned” as a child.
  • Freshman Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO) claims to be new to Capitol Hill: “I’m new. I was sworn in just three weeks ago as a member of the 113th Congress. I don’t know how they do things in Washington, DC.” But beginning in 2001, Wagner served as co-chair to the Republican National Committee for four years. She also served as the ambassador to Luxembourg for four years after that — a position that requires a presidential nomination and Senate confirmation.
  • And, holy shit!

Republicans calling for a government shutdown are getting louder

The GOP has apparently decided to just ignore the 2012 election completely — and the will of the majority who voted.

Adding to the recent crazy pronouncements from Lindsey Graham and Pat Toomey are the following additions from more members of the brain-trust known as the Republican Party:

Sen. Cornyn (R-TX): ‘It May Be Necessary To Partially Shut Down The Government’: “In an op-ed published Thursday in the Houston Chronicle, Sen. John Cornyn suggested that a partial shutdown of the federal government may be necessary in the coming months “in order to secure the long-term fiscal well being of our country, rather than plod along the path of Greece, Italy and Spain.”

Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ): ‘It’s About Time’ We Had Another Government Shut Down:  “Appearing on CBS’ Face the Nation [yesterday] morning, Rep. Matt Salmon  enthusiastically called for a government shut down: SALMON: I was here during the government shutdown in 1995. It was a divided government. we had a Democrat [sic] President of the United States. We had a Republican Congress. And I believe that that government shutdown actually gave us the impetus, as we went forward, to push toward some real serious compromise. …

[Newt] Gingrich [also] claimed that the shutdown led to the misleadingly named Balanced Budget Act of 1997, but the law was so laden down with conservative pet projects that it actually increased the budget deficit. In reality, the principal policy driver of the Clinton era surpluses was something that every single Republican in Congress voted against — the Clinton tax hikes on the rich. These surpluses, of course, were wiped out almost immediately after President George W. Bush took office, thanks to Bush’s tax cuts that largely benefited the very wealthy.”

And, finally, this “very special message” from a representative of the tea party:

Tea party Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX): ‘I Don’t Think What Washington Needs Is More Compromise’: “if voters sent a message to the GOP in November by reelecting President Obama and voting out Republicans in both the Senate and the House, freshman tea party Sen. Ted Cruz seems to have missed the memo. He appeared on Fox News Sunday: “I think the fiscal cliff deal was a lousy one, but moving forward with the debt ceiling and those who believe in limited spending and solving the debt…I don’t think what Washington needs is more compromise, I think what Washington needs is more common sense and more principle.”

Seems to be a growing chorus of fail. John Cole says:

“The Democrats appear to have learned and will refuse to negotiate with the terrorists, so it will be all on the GOP. When the blue hairs stop getting their SS checks and the military has former Generals on every cable channel talking about how lack of funds is impeding their ability to perform their mission, it will truly be a site to see. Can’t wait for it. Bring it on.”

image thepoliticalfreakshow

Texas GOP official: Texas should secede from the “maggots” who re-elected Obama

That moment when you realize that some Republicans really are much weaker, emotionally and psychologically, than Democrats. From

Peter Morrison, treasurer of the Hardin County Republican Party in Texas, suggests in his newsletter that the state should have an “amicable divorce” from the “maggots” who re-elected Obama.

Morrison posted on his Facebook page his post-election thoughts: “We must contest every single inch of ground and delay the baby-murdering, tax-raising socialists at every opportunity. But in due time, the maggots will have eaten every morsel of flesh off of the rotting corpse of the Republic, and therein lies our opportunity.”

“Texas was once its own country, and many Texans already think in nationalist terms about their state,” Morrison continued. “We need to do everything possible to encourage a long-term shift in thinking on this issue. Why should Vermont and Texas live under the same government? Let each go her own way in peace, sign a free trade agreement among the states and we can avoid this gut-wrenching spectacle every four years.”

Supposedly, there are anywhere from 15-20 states wanting to secede from the union right now (all being reported breathlessly by rightwing sites). Consider that Colorado is one of those states with a petition carrying a couple hundred signatures (where do these people come from?), and you begin to see that every state has unstable pockets of rightwing fringe — some states just have more than others.

Peter Morrison is a man-child who didn’t get his way and is now throwing a Texas-sized tantrum. He haz so many feels, you guys. Well guess what: Democrats made it through eight years of Bush (with the first four years given to us by the Supreme Court, not by the vote). I’d tell Morrison to buck up but he might be emotionally incapable of doing so.

As Nate Silver wrote back in 2009, the threat of secession by Texas is only a threat to the Republican Party, with regard to elections, the presidency, and the House and the Senate. It’s like holding a gun to your own head and saying, “stop or I’ll shoot me.” Be careful what you wish for, is all I’m saying.

Job-ettes: the Republican jobs plan for America

“Well, they weren’t jobs, they were ‘job-ettes,’ right? No health care, no benefits, low pay. You can go to a waitress anywhere from Texarkana all the way to El Paso and say to a waitress, ‘Did you know Rick Perry’s created 1 million jobs? And she’d say, ‘Yeah, I’ve got three of them.”

Former Texas Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower on Texas Governor Rick Perry’s ‘1 million jobs’ claim. (Source: kileyrae)


Mitt Romney in his RNC speech: “You deserved it because you worked harder than ever before during these years.  You deserved it because, when it cost more to fill up your car, you cut out moving lights, and put in longer hours.  Or when you lost that job that paid $22.50 an hour, benefits, you took two jobs at $9 an hour…”

Matt TaibbiAre you kidding? Mitt Romney was the guy that fired you from that $22.50 an hour job, and helped you replace it with two $9 an hour jobs! 

He was a pioneer in the area of eliminating the well-paying job with benefits and replacing it with the McJob that offered no benefits at all. One of the things that killed him in the Senate race against Ted Kennedy were Kennedy ads that reminded voters that Mitt’s takeovers resulted in slashed wages and lost benefits. He was exactly the guy that eliminated that classic $22.50 manufacturing job, like in the case of GST Steel, where Bain took over with an initial investment of $8 million, paid itself a $36 million dividend, ended up walking away with $50 million, and left GST saddled with over $500 million in debt. 750 of those well-paying jobs were lost.

What kinds of jobs were left for those fired workers to look for? Well, in the best-case scenario, you might have found one at Ampad, another Bain takeover target, where workers had their pay slashed from $10.22 to $7.88 an hour, tripled co-pays, and eliminated the retirement plan.

So a guy who eliminated hundreds of $22 an hour jobs and slashed hundreds more jobs to below $9 an hour blasts Barack Obama for not giving you the better life you deserved, after you lost your $22/hour job and had to take two $9/hour jobs. Are we all high or something? Did that really just happen?

Photo: President Barack Obama bids farewell to Gen. Lloyd Austin III

firstfamilyPresident Barack Obama bids farewell to Gen. Lloyd Austin III at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, August 31, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Red states and ACA’s Medicaid expansion

Some Republican governors have no problem rejecting ACA-funded expansions of Medicaid in their states to help the poor. They believe in “small government” — even if others must suffer for it. These same governors would never dream of increasing taxes, by even a small amount, on their wealthiest residents. Instead, to balance a budget, they’d have no problem cutting public-sector jobs, programs, and services for everyone else.

“In South Carolina, a yearly income of $16,900 is too much for Medicaid for a family of three. In Florida, $11,000 a year is too much. In Mississippi, $8,200 a year is too much. In Louisiana and Texas, earning more than just $5,000 a year makes you ineligible for Medicaid.

“[Republican] governors in those five states have said they’ll reject the Medicaid expansion underpinning Obama’s health law after the Supreme Court’s decision gave states that option. Many of those hurt by the decision are working parents who are poor — but not poor enough — to qualify for Medicaid.”

“[...] Medicaid now covers an estimated 70 million Americans and would cover an estimated 7 million more in 2014 under the Obama health law’s expansion. In contrast, Ryan’s plan could mean 14 million to 27 million Americans would ultimately lose coverage, even beyond the effect of a repeal of the health law, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation of Ryan’s 2011 budget plan.

“[...] The national health law’s Medicaid expansion would start covering all citizens in 2014 who make up to roughly $15,400 for an individual, $30,650 for a family of four.

“The federal government will pay the full cost of the Medicaid expansion through 2016. After that, the states will pick up 5 percent of the cost through 2019, and 10 percent of the cost thereafter.

“Why would a governor say no?”

— Anti-Medicaid states: Earning $11,000 is too much | via

“[Mead] is worried about the 83,000 uninsured residents in the state and the impact of the high cost of uncompensated care. But he said the state needs to look at its possible savings and expenses as a “ledger sheet” and consider all the consequences of both the expansion and the rest of the health-care act… Mead said Wyoming might not need to decide if presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney wins and follows through on his vow to repeal the health-care act. “(He) said there will be a change in course if he is elected,” Mead said. “If President (Barack) Obama is elected, I assume we will continue heading down this line.””

— WY Gov. Matt Mead still wary of Medicaid expansion 

This is one example of how a political ideology is now more of a religious belief to the modern GOP than is the Christianity they always claim to follow.

‘Life threatening’ storms forecasted this afternoon

image: (AP Photo/NOAA)

Forecasters say Saturday storms ‘life threatening’

It was only the second time in U.S. history that the Storm Prediction Center issued a high-risk warning more than 24 hours in advance, said Russ Schneider, director of the center, which is part of the National Weather Service. The first time was in April 2006, when nearly 100 tornadoes tore across the southeastern U.S., killing a dozen people and damaging more than 1,000 homes in Tennessee.

This weekend’s outbreak could be a “high-end, life threatening event,” the center said.

[...] The worst weather is expected to develop late Saturday afternoon between Oklahoma City and Salina, Kan., but other areas also could see severe storms with baseball-sized hail and winds of up to 70 mph, forecasters said. The warning issued Friday covers parts of Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas.

Read full article…

Weather: Look out, Nebraska, Kansas, and Texas


High Tornado Alert

Look out, Nebraska, Kansas, and Texas.

Tornado watches are in effect through Saturday and into the foreseeable future as a collision of weather fronts make their way back-and-forth across the country. Storm Chasers are video streaming their drives into danger. Drive along with them safely by clicking on the car icons above.

Storm Chasers video and storm tracker here

(3/21) Wednesday morning’s 6 semi-interesting things


  • The White House issued this statement responding to the House Republican budget released today by Rep. Paul RyanThe House budget once again fails the test of balance, fairness, and shared responsibility.  It would shower the wealthiest few Americans with an average tax cut of at least $150,000, while preserving taxpayer giveaways to oil companies and breaks for Wall Street hedge fund managers.  What’s worse is that all of these tax breaks would be paid for by undermining Medicare and the very things we need to grow our economy and the middle class – things like education, basic research, and new sources of energy. And instead of strengthening Medicare, the House budget would end Medicare as we know it, turning the guarantee of retirement security into a voucher that will shift higher and higher costs to seniors over time.
  • Dems To GOP: No Cover From Us On Medicare Privatization Plan – When House Republicans unveil[ed] their 2012 budget on Tuesday, they are expected to include a Medicare privatization plan endorsed by one Democrat — Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR). That, Republicans will claim, proves their controversial overhaul proposal has bipartisan support. Leading Democrats say they won’t let the GOP get away with it. “We don’t see a difference in principle between the original Ryan plan and the so-called Wyden-Ryan plan,” Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) a party surrogate on health care issues, told reporters on a conference call Monday morning. “It’s equally bad or only marginally different but still would end Medicare as we know it.”


  • Voter Turnout Extremely Low For Illinois Primary – Turnout for Tuesday’s Illinois primary in Chicago was a meager 24 percent, officials said. It was the lowest turnout for a presidential primary in the past 70 years. Election officials said a lack of contested races was behind the lackluster activity at the polls. “It’s very, very disappointing,” said Langdon Neal, chairman of the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners. “I think what it indicates is that a lack of a contest on the Democratic side at the top of the ticket really did cause our voters not to be engaged in this election.”
  • Romney wins Illinois primary, gears up for Louisiana – With 99% of precincts reporting, Romney led former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum by a 47%-to-35% margin. Texas Rep. Ron Paul was running third at 9%, while former House Speaker Newt Gingrich had 8%. With the victory, Romney was poised to win at least 41 of the 54 delegates up for grabs in the state, giving him a total of 562, according to CNN’s estimate. Santorum is second with 249, Gingrich third with 137 and Paul last with 69. A total of 1,144 delegates are needed to clinch the GOP nomination. Louisiana will hold its primary on Saturday.
  • Do You Favor Phasing Out Medicare? - Not sure this is going to get the level of attention it deserves or that most political reporters will call it what it is: Paul Ryan today unveiled the new House Budget, which doubles down on Ryan’s previously announced plan to end Medicare as a source of guaranteed health care benefits for the elderly. It’ll still be called Medicare, but it will be Medicare in name only. We’ve covered this ad nauseam, but it hasn’t really penetrated elite consciousness, let alone broader public awareness. (Incredibly obtuse fact-checking on the issue has compounded the problem.) But here we sit less than eight months before the election, with Republicans firmly and irrevocably on record as planning to dismantle Medicare. No guaranteed benefits. Period. End of sentence. [...] No candidate for federal office should be able to dodge this question. It’s that simple.


  • Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL) Reaffirms That He’s A Birther - When asked about the issue on Capitol Hill today, Stearns told reporters, “I am, shall we say, looking at all the evidence.” He called for credence to be given to birth certificate investigations, saying, “I don’t think it is unreasonable just to see what they have to say.” The Hill has more: [...] Asked Tuesday if he thinks the birth certificate is legitimate, Stearns cited an inquiry by an Arizona sheriff – an apparent reference to Arpaio – and noted he believed there is “another investigation” as well. “I think we are just going to hold in abeyance a final decision until we hear, you know, some of these people seem to have legitimate concerns, so I don’t think it is unreasonable just to see what they have to say,” Stearns said.
  • Rep. Walter Jones: America Borrowing From ‘Uncle Chang’ To Fund Afghanistan War – Republican Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) in a House Armed Services Committee hearing on Afghanistan on Tuesday let loose a rather remarkable short-hand reference to America’s financial relationship with China, calling the country “Uncle Chang.” In a question to the Commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, General John Allen, Jones said, “What is the event that the administration and General Allen, you sir, are going to be candid with the United States Congress and more important than the Congress, the American people as we spend $10 billion a month that we can’t pay for, the Chinese, Uncle Chang, is lending us the money we are spending in Afghanistan.”
  • Man throws fire bomb at Democratic state senator Wendy Davis’ office in Texas – At least two fire bombs were thrown at the Fort Worth office of state Sen. Wendy Davis (D) on Tuesday night, according to the Star Telegram. Davis was not in her office at the time, but some staff members were present. They used a fire extinguisher to put out the small blaze. No one was injured in the attack, but the lawmaker’s office was damaged by the fire. “It’s unfortunate when things like this happen in the public arena,” she said. “It reminds us of how important it is for us to remain very civil in our discourse and to work not to foment this kind of anger in our community as we discuss things that are challenges that we all face and care about.” || ABLIt’s unclear yet whether or not the firebombing of Senator Davis’s office is connected to her advocacy for women’s health and pro-Planned Parenthood stance, but it sure feels that way to me and to the pro-choice women in Texas.


  • Karen Santorum Promises Rick Will ‘Do Nothing’ On Contraception – Appearing on Piers Morgan last night, Rick Santorum’s wife, Karen, tried to address concerns that her husband is “anti-woman,” noting that when she went on a book tour several years ago, he supported her by staying home “changing diapers and making meals and cleaning the kitchen.” She went on to promise women that, if her husband was elected, they would have “nothing to fear” when it comes to the issue of contraception: KAREN SANTORUM: It makes me really sad that the media tries to do that to him. They try to make it look like he is something that he’s not. Rick is a great guy, he’s completely supportive of women, he’s surrounded by a lot of very strong women, and I think women have nothing to fear. When it comes to contraceptives, he will do nothing on that issue. [image: irealizenothing]
  • Arizona Rep. Terri Proud (R-WTF): Women Should Be Forced to Watch an Abortion Before Having One – This is just getting out of hand: “Personally I’d like to make a law that mandates a woman watch an abortion being performed prior to having a “surgical procedure”. If it’s not a life it shouldn’t matter, if it doesn’t harm a woman then she shouldn’t care, and don’t we want more transparency and education in the medical profession anyway? We demand it everywhere else. Until the dead child can tell me that she/he does not feel any pain – I have no intentions of clearing the conscience of the living – I will be voting YES.”
  • Alaska Rep. Alan Dick (R-Dick): Women Need Paternal Permission for An Abortion - [I]f you’re not fully convinced yet that Alaska is the next front in the GOP’s war on women, you just have to listen to State Rep. Alan Dick. He said that he doesn’t believe that when a woman is pregnant, it’s really “her pregnancy.” As a matter of fact, he would advocate for criminalizing women who have an abortion without the permission via written signature from the man who impregnated her. He stated, “If I thought that the man’s signature was required… required, in order for a woman to have an abortion, I’d have a little more peace about it…” [...] no word on what women who become pregnant as a result of rape are supposed to do in Dick’s perfect world. Maybe women should carry waiver forms on them at all times. You know—just in case.


  • Paul Ryan’s budget: Should the poor pay for deficit reduction? – Here’s the basic outline of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s 2013 budget in one sentence: Ryan’s budget funds trillions of dollars in tax cuts, defense spending and deficit reduction by cutting deeply into health-care programs and income supports for the poor. At the end of his initial release, Ryan posts a table comparing his budget to the president’s budget. The single largest difference is in the tax section: Ryan raises $2 trillion less in revenue than the White House does. In the president’s budget, those revenues come mostly from increasing taxes on the wealthy. [image: savagemike]
  • Paul Ryan’s budget hurts the poor – After recalling his family’s immigration from Ireland generations ago, and his belief in the virtue of people who “pull themselves up by the bootstraps,” Ryan warned that a generous safety net “lulls able-bodied people into lives of complacency and dependency, which drains them of their very will and incentive to make the most of their lives. It’s demeaning.” How very kind: To protect poor Americans from being demeaned, Ryan is cutting their anti-poverty programs and using the proceeds to give the wealthiest Americans a six-figure tax cut.


  • Earthquake in Mexico: Powerful, destructive but not deadly – As of early Wednesday, there were still no reports of deaths from Tuesday’s magnitude-7.4 quake centered near the border between the southern states of Oaxaca and Guerrero, even after 10 aftershocks. Interior Secretary Alejandro Poire said Tuesday night that nine people were injured in Oaxaca and two in Mexico City. [...] There were reports of damaged buildings but none were reported to have collapsed on the Oaxaca side of the border, said civil protection spokeswoman Cynthia Tovar said. In Guerrero, home to Acapulco where little damage was reported, officials say about 800 homes were damaged and 60 collapsed. [image: ABCNews]
  • Dutch Roman Catholic Church Castrated Boys As ‘Treatment’ For Homosexuality – Shocking reports have surfaced that reveal at least ten teenage boys were castrated in the 1950s by the Dutch Roman Catholic Church as a “treatment” for homosexuality, the Telegraph reports. Dutch journalist Joep Dohmen, reporting for the NRC Handelsblad uncovered ten cases of the castrations, one of which was suffered by Henk Heithuis, who was castrated as a minor for reporting to police sexual abuse by a priest that he endured while in the boarding home. Although the priests were convicted of the abuses, Heithuis was still transported to a Catholic hospital, and underwent a surgical castration as a treatment for homosexuality and, according to the report, a punishment for tattling on the clergy.

Texas Federal Judge responds to the idiocy of Newt Gingrich and rightwing evangelicals

I like this. So much.

Texas Federal Judge Demagogued By Gingrich Fights Back — ‘You Should Be Ashamed’

Texas federal Judge Fred Biery is a key villain in GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich’s narrative about why federal judges are out of control and must be intimidated into submission. Gingrich routinely cites a previous decision by Biery holding that the Constitution does not permit a public school district to sponsor a student-led prayer at graduation to justify eliminating courts that displease Gingrich [...] In his order approving the settlement, Biery includes an unusual “personal statement” directed at the many lawmakers who, like Gingrich, have painted him as some kind of enemy of religion:

To the United States Marshal Service and local police who have provided heightened security: Thank you.

To those Christians who have venomously and vomitously cursed the Court family and threatened bodily harm and assassination: In His name, I forgive you.

To those who have prayed for my death: Your prayers will someday be answered, as inevitably trumps probability.

To those in the executive and legislative branches of government who have demagogued this case for their own political goals: You should be ashamed of yourselves.

Biery also includes a clever dig at the many Christian right groups that have attacked him:

“Any American can pray, silently or verbally, seven days a week, twenty four hours a day, in private as Jesus taught or in large public events as Mohammed instructed.”

Touché, Judge. And thank you for your service.